Pfizer's multidose Prevenar 13 wins WHO backing; early 2017 launch planned

Courtesy of FishInWater under Creative Commons

Pfizer’s blockbuster vaccine Prevenar 13 will soon get a boost in a host of international markets. The shot won WHO backing in a new, easier-to-store formulation Tuesday, enabling increased access in poor countries by reducing costs--though pricing controversy hasn’t escaped the franchise in recent days.

With the WHO blessing, the New York pharma is prepping an early 2017 rollout in countries supported by Gavi at a price of $3.10 per dose. In a statement, the company said once introduced, the vaccine’s “pricing is expected to be available to all Gavi-eligible countries.” What's more, countries that have graduated from Gavi support due to income growth can access the pricing until 2025 through “expanded availability,” Pfizer’s statement said.

The four-dose vial presentation--the formulation approved by WHO--contains the preservative 2-phenoxyethanol and can be used over a 28-day period following its initial use. It has the potential to reduce temperature-controlled supply chain requirements, UNICEF shipping costs and storage requirements, all by 75%, according to Pfizer.

It’s the latest in a hot streak for a vaccine family that topped world sales charts last year at $6.2 billion. Last week, the vaccine won expanded use in adults aged 18 to 49 from the FDA. And the franchise got a $2 billion boost from CDC committee backing for adults age 65 and older, handed down in 2014.

But the WHO support also comes as the international charity Médecins Sans Frontières continues to rail on Pfizer’s pricing, most recently echoed in Greece. MSF said it had vaccinated 5,000 refugee children aged between 6 months and 15 years by purchasing doses pneumonia vaccine at $68 each from local pharmacies, a far cry from the lowest price of $3.10 available to Gavi-eligible countries.

When Pfizer announced a Gavi price change last year from $3.30 to $3.10 per dose, MSF said that was “inadequate” and asked for a total of $5 for three doses in developing countries.

Prevnar 13, as it’s named in the U.S., Canada and Taiwan, continues to drive Pfizer’s vaccines growth. The unit posted a 44% sales increase last year.

- here's the Pfizer release
- and the MSF statement

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